cover image Mars and Her Children

Mars and Her Children

Marge Piercy. Alfred A. Knopf, $20 (165pp) ISBN 978-0-679-41004-1

Piercy's ( Available Light ) is a poetry of the senses, and often that means sensual overload for readers, who may feel after reading a few of these poems that they have eaten too many rich desserts. A poem entitled ``When too much is barely enough'' is exemplary of Piercy's style: ``The scent of butter and cream honeysuckle / is ladled like sambuca straight into my brain . . . .'' The poem is about nothing more than a beautiful day, yet Piercy's overzealous metaphor-making gives it a queasy, psychedelic tinge. To be fair, other poems are more imagistically restrained in this uneven collection. In ``The pain came back like something sharp in my eye'' the speaker recounts the neurotic incidents of an old lover who has killed himself. The poet proclaims, ``You feared love with an energy better spent / fearing death, to whom you gave yourself wholly / at last, supine to that sour kiss.'' Offering oneself up to life's (particularly love's) sensual pleasures is what we must do for our bodies while we're still alive, the poet says, because one day we will succumb to diseases like cancer and AIDS, and at least we will have ``sucked the last morsel of pleasure onto our tongue /since we're charged anyhow for living.'' (Apr.)